In a statement, the White House doctor announced that the lesion removed from the US president's chest last month was a basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer. This is what it is.
The portion of tissue removed from US President Joe Biden's chest last month during his annual check-up was a basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer. This was announced by Dr Kevin O'Connor, the president's physician, in a letter to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. The removed lesion was biopsied and, 'as expected', tested positive for basal cell carcinoma. "All cancerous tissue was successfully removed," O'Connor wrote.
Joe Biden is doing well and will now continue 'dermatological surveillance', since as the doctor stated 'no further treatment is necessary'. O'Connor further explained that the area where the cancerous lesion was removed has "healed well", emphasising that "Basal cell carcinoma lesions do not tend to spread or metastasise, as some more serious skin cancers such as melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma are known to do".
Similar case for first lady Jill Biden
Earlier this year, first lady Jill Biden also underwent a procedure to remove similar lesions, CNN reported. Specifically, a letter published by O'Connor last January explains that Jill Biden underwent Mohs surgery to remove and examine a lesion above her right eye, which had been discovered during a routine skin cancer check.
"The procedure confirmed that the small lesion was a basal cell carcinoma," O'Connor also wrote at the time. "All of the cancerous tissue was successfully removed and the margins were free of any remaining residual skin cancer cells." However, during a pre-operative consultation, O'Connor had identified "an additional area of concern on the left side of the first lady's chest" and Mohs surgery was performed there as well.
What is Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma of the skin is one of the most common cancers and treatment can be very effective when the cancer is detected early. These tumours often present with discolouration and scaling and can cause ulcerations or sores and, in some cases, can become very large and unsightly. They can also metastasise or spread to internal organs and cause organ dysfunction leading to death.
Like another skin cancer, melanoma, these diseases are very much linked to sun exposure and sunburn. People with a fair complexion and people with freckles and/or red hair are particularly at risk. Some people with basal cells may also be at greater risk of developing squamous cells or melanoma. Timely check-ups and treatment of lesions several times a year can help reduce the risk of systemic spread of the disease.
President Biden's health condition
O'Connor confirmed that President Biden has a 'healthy' and 'vigorous' physique and is 'fit to perform the duties of the presidency successfully'. Other examinations performed in February on the president's head, ears, eyes, nose and throat were normal. An 'extremely detailed' neurological examination also found no findings consistent with stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. Biden still experiences a "stiff gait," the report states, and has been prescribed custom orthotics to help with his feet. He continues to exercise five days a week and his contact lens prescription has been updated. O'Connor's report was likely the last health update before Biden makes his re-election intentions known in the coming months.